Category Archives: Family

Light Mode

It is Friday, Good Friday, and our spring break is winding down. Last year for spring break we were in Michigan and we watched the lake ice melt. I spent the remainder of last school year – April and May – teaching from our cottage in Michigan. This year, we are in the keys of Florida and it has been very relaxing. We’ve been safe or as safe as one can be in the world of COVID19, social distancing, and mask mandates.

Monday evening’s sunset from Sunset park, Key Colony Beach, Florida

This year spring break has a different outcome. Last year I was returning from break to remote learning – something I had never done – posting assignments by 8AM and monitoring student progress, using ZOOM to connect with my students and using email and comments on assignments to provide feedback. This year I am returning to having most students in class four days each week and the remainder joining class remotely via ZOOM.

Much has changed since last year and I am thankful, very thankful. This year there is hope, while last year there was fear and uncertainty. Even with hope, there is still some fear and uncertainty, but I have found that when I focus on what I can control and for the rest what I am unable to control, I rely on my faith and pray that hope rises above fear.

Sunday morning’s sunrise. Key Colony Beach, Florida

A week ago, Monday, I opened my email and found that my Lenten Journal had been published. I smiled and shared it with a few folks, and now I share it with you.

I had written the reflection in mid-January as we were preparing to begin hybrid teaching and learning. Hybrid teaching is having some students in class and the remainder remotely on ZOOM. In January, we had divided the students who wanted to be in school into two groups an A group – last names A-L and a B group – last names M-Z. The A group attended Tuesday and Wednesday and the B group attended Thursday and Friday. In all, I had a little more than a third of my students in class for at least two days of instruction and those students who were not in class attended class remotely via ZOOM. It took a bit of learning on my part and my student’s part but we figured it out. We made it work.

Below is my Lenten reflection.

“For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light. (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth)..” Ephesians 5:8-9

I teach 6th grade science and recently added an iPad as an extra screen to help manage my classroom with students in class and those following along at home. It helps me to create a single classroom and bring together the students who are in the room with those who are at home on Zoom. The iPad suggested I try ‘dark mode’ to help me better see the screen and improve the battery life of my device. But I soon discovered that it made reading more difficult for me and following along in class, dark mode became a burden and I turned off ‘dark mode.’ Continue reading Light Mode

W^2 – Irma and time

W^2 or W squared for Wordless Wednesday, March 31, 2021

demolition is almost complete on this piece of ocean frontage. Key Colony Beach, Florida March 28, 2021 12:49 PM
a black and white version of the same photo, Key Colony Beach, Florida March 28, 2021 12:49 PM

Hurricane Irma came ashore on just east of this location on September 10, 2017. Irma was a category 4 hurricane with winds in over 100 mph and a storm surge of 6 to 10 feet. She left behind damaged homes, buildings, and this condominium complex in her wake. Most were able to rebuild, but for some the damage was too great to rebuild. Sometimes, it’s easier just to start over. Making the Days Count, even when I must press the reset button and begin again.

When was the last time you pressed re-set?*

*Full disclosure, I went back to ”play’ with Adobe Photoshop and decided to add a black and white version of the photo.

W^2 – play

W^2 or W squared for Wordless Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Fern and Ivy – left to right, their faces seem to say, “can you come out and play, it’s fresh snow and a lot of fun.” Wednesday, December 30, 2020 10:05 AM

Fern and Ivy enjoy getting out and running in the snow and I enjoy watching them. We’ve got a few inches of fresh snow and until the dogs ran through it, it was a clean white blanket. I’ll be stepping out to clear the drive and walks and playing a little, too. Making the Days Count, at play and work, one day at a time.

What have you done lately to play?

still silent, Stille Nacht

It’s Christmas morning and Fern and I are the only ones awake, really I am the only one awake. Fern is curled up in her favorite chair overlooking the lawn and the lake. It was grandmas favorite spot, though the chair has changed. Grandma passed away a little more
than five years ago but her memory lives on.

our Christmas tree with the reflection of the fireplace in the window… Merry Christmas…

We drove north to the lake Wednesday morning. O drove one car with Fern and B and I took another with Ivy. We’ve spent the last couple of days readying the cottage for Christmas and it looks and feels like Christmas. Snow is gently falling and all is silent on the lake and in the cottage.

This morning I came across a memory and tweeted it….


And I went back and re-read my post about reading the story to my mother-in-law. Please read, if you have time – Stille Nacht. Continue reading still silent, Stille Nacht

W^2 – sweet tango

W^2 or W squared for Wordless Wednesday September 9, 2020

a sweet tango apple plucked from sweet tango apples packed for sale in pecks, ½ pecks, and ¼ pecks Casnovia, Michigan – Monday September 7, 2020 – 2:19 PM

What fruits are ripening where you live?

1:14 or 15 AM, one year later

The ringing phone woke me, but my B, my wife, answered it. It was Tuesday night or Wednesday morning.

It was the phone call every parent fears and it was 1:15 AM.

I climbed out of bed and started getting dressed listening carefully as my wife listened and responded. She was serious locked in and her look and tone gave it away. The phone call was short, but it seemed like an eternity.

She hung up and shared details of the call. It was William our son, he’d been in an accident and it was serious.

We dressed and left for the hospital.

A lot of things went William’s and our way that night and in the days since. That was a year ago tonight. William’s accident happened around 11:09 to before 11:17. The accident report has the emergency crew arriving on scene at 11:17 PM.

We called William’s girlfriend on our way to the hospital.

When we arrived at the hospital the fire chief for the fire department William had begun working for was waiting to greet us and share details of William’s accident. He asked us if there was anything, he, or the fire department, could do for us before the doctor came in to talk with us. It was a single vehicle crash William and the motorcycle had left the roadway and struck two mailboxes before coming to a stop.

When the doctor came into talk to us, the fire chief gave us his card and left.

It was serious, but William was stable. He had sustained a serious head injury even with wearing a helmet. He had a serious scrape on his left knee but no broken bones. Beth asked a few questions and the doctor shared it was early and William was being transferred to a Level 1 trauma hospital in Chicago.

We were able to see William briefly before he was transported. He was sedated and it was severely injured, but he was stable. Some things in life can never be unseen. At some point William’s girlfriend arrived and she was able to see him with us.

A lot of things went William’s way that night and, in the days, weeks, and months since.

William and I on a walk- September 2019

His accident was a year ago this evening and he is doing well and continuing his healing.

William spent a month in the hospital and a rehabilitation hospital. He relearned how to walk and talk and lot of other things we take for granted. After his release from the hospital, he then spent another three months in extensive out-patient rehabilitation.

William worked hard. We prayed and cried. He grumbled, he wanted to be exited early, but he stayed the course. In late December he was exited from out-patient rehabilitation services and cleared to return to normal activities.

A lot of things went William’s way that night and, in the days, weeks, and months since. Continue reading 1:14 or 15 AM, one year later

It’s a new (school) year, sort of….

Today was supposed to be the first day of my 2020-21 school year. It will be my 22nd year as a classroom teacher. It was also supposed to the first day of our daughter O’s senior year.

But it’s not. Our first days are a few more days away. My first day of school is nine days in the future and O’s is fifteen.

It’s been a summer of uncertainty and anxiety for many people as the future is constantly changing and beyond our control. I am reminded of a prayer my mother shared with many years ago when I was struggling and needed lifting up,

God, give me grace to accept with serenity the things that cannot be changed, Courage to change the things which should be changed, and the Wisdom to distinguish the one from the other. Living one day at a time, Enjoying one moment at a time, Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace, Taking, as Jesus did, This sinful world as it is, Not as I would have it, Trusting that You will make all things right, If I surrender to Your will, So that I may be reasonably happy in this life, And supremely happy with You forever in the next. Amen.

That prayer is better known as The Serenity Prayer. There is so much beyond my control, it is best to focus on the present.

And, I have been. I’ve been making the days count in more ways than I can write about.

Currently, I am on a streak of seven days of walking or working out.

the wooded path from my hike at the Morton Arboretum

A week ago this past Saturday I drove to the Morton Arboretum for a hike, or as it turned out, it was a troll. I was able to take in four of the six trolls on my almost 4-mile hike along the trails at the arboretum. It was my longest hike going back to April and it felt good to walk along the wooded paths and hear the birds and the rustle of the gentle wind through the leaves above.

I believe the trolls – the trolls at the arboretum – are trying to tell us something. Continue reading It’s a new (school) year, sort of….

Father’s Day – 2020

It’s Father’s Day and I am in northern Mississippi visiting with my stepmother. Last year on Father’s Day, I was on my way home from visiting her.

My father died 11 years ago this summer after a fall and a brief illness, and I began writing a year later.

My stepmother had been living independently in Mississippi since he died. Neither my father nor my stepmother is native to Mississippi, but they decided to relocate here after my father retired in 1998. It’s a beautiful town and they have a lovely home.

However, this past winter that independence came to an end after a fall and brief hospitalization. I am grateful that my brothers and I were successful in moving her into an assisted living facility before the COVID19 lockdown shutdown the country.

But life is full of next steps, our next step is convincing her that living in northern Mississippi 621 miles from me in Illinois, 621 miles from one of my Texas brothers, and 630 miles from my other Texas brother is no longer sustainable, especially in the time of COVID19.

visiting on her porch – social distancing and being safe.

Tough conversations. Much like the conversations my dad and I had years ago.

Life is full of twists and turns; it’s full of beginnings and endings where one ending is a new beginning. Continue reading Father’s Day – 2020

milestones and May 2020

Today is going to be an amazing day and it marks several milestones.

  • It is the first week of my summer break,
  • It’s the last day of May,
  • It’s been over eleven weeks our state closed schools until early April, then early May, and finally for the year,
  • I’ve been living and working by the lake for nine weeks,
  • It’s been five weeks since my last post, AND
  • I’ve been blogging for ten years and two days.

It’s also the last day of my Coronavirus protest beard. The last day I shaved was the last day I went to school – Friday, March 13th. When began my protest, I anticipated being back in school in a few weeks. Today, after I press ‘publish,’ the beard goes.

early morning view of the lake – each hour is a little different

The final day of the 2019-20 school year ended Wednesday. It ended awkwardly and with uncertainty. Many of my students embraced shift to e-Learning, but sadly many did not. The ones who did are the students who had good habits and strong learning skills. The ones who didn’t, are the students who need the routine of school and even with being in the classroom these students struggle with learning or completing learning tasks. Looking back, it’s these students who are the reason I gravitated to teaching and middle school. I was one of those students who struggled in the classroom in middle school and early high school. It wasn’t until I was a junior that I figured it out.

Summer break began Thursday morning but living along the lake for nine weeks has allowed me to enjoy the benefits of remote teaching and learning remotely as well as the benefits of summer break while living and working. I’ve been fortunate to take advantage of the wilderness around us – the forest, the lake, and walking and hiking trails. I’ve taken some amazing walks through the forest trails, along the river, and along the lake shore. Most of all it’s the movement and the freshness of the air that has lifted me in the isolation of quarantine. It’s the balance of nature rising with the sun and resting with the sun’s setting that has made the biggest difference over the past elven weeks.

It’s been five weeks since my last published post, but I’ve started writing posts, stopped and didn’t finish. Mostly because I had teaching – preparing, assessing, and communicating – my primary job that took precedence. I have other jobs which kept me from writing – husband, father, son, brother, friend, dog owner, and self and each of those had multiple tasks – cook, housekeeper, and gardener to name only a few of the many roles I (we all) take on and try to keep balanced.

Walking and Hiking
Since the quarantine began, I’ve been walking and hiking more. Surely the weather has been a factor as spring began and temperatures became warmer and the days got longer.

Hartwick Pines State Park is a short drive from the lake, and I’ve enjoyed the many hiking trails through the park. My favorite hike is the shortest hikes – a little less than two miles, but it’s the most peaceful, even though it’s likely the most popular trail in the park. The hiking trail is through a virgin pine forest and there is a chapel along the route to pause and reflect. The trail passes through a former logging camp constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corps.

Continue reading milestones and May 2020